Thursday, 26 June 2008

Bhutan : Pine loppers infect pine trees in Lobesa

June 25: Thousands of pine trees are destroyed every year by forest fire. And when there is no forest fire especially at this time of the year, a caterpillar known as pine loppers are taking its toll on the pine trees.

More than 500 acres of pine trees in Lobesa are being attacked by a caterpillar known as pine loppers. From a distance the pine trees appear normal. On a closer look, it appears as if all the pine needles have fallen. But when you actually get near the pine trees, hundreds of caterpillars, known as pine loppers are seen feeding on the pine needles.

Ugyen Thinley lecturer in forestry at the College of Natural Resources in Lobesa said he first spotted the caterpillars in 2005. With the help of his students he conducted a study in 2005. They found that the caterpillars appear when there is less rainfall and when the temperature is soaring. He said younger trees are more susceptible to the attack.

According to his study trees which grow dense forests and on the slopes are attacked more. This, he said could be due to the less moisture absorbed by the trees. He said trees which grow along the water course are not affected by the pest.

He said as of now there are no preventive measures. The only preventive measure he says is good rainfall and good weather condition. He said since the caterpillars are camouflaged and well adapted to nature, it is difficult for birds to spot them.

The first case of such attack in Thimphu was recorded by the RNR research centre in Yesipang in 1995.

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